Update: As of 11:10 p.m., Englander has fallen the tiniest bit, to 57.75 percent -- and that's with almost half the district's votes counted. Smith moved up a few tenths to compensate, but nothing major.
Mitchell Englander has done everything a good power climber should to reach the ultimate City Council District 12 throne: He started as a political consultant for his uncle's firm, made his way to City Hall and served his time as current Councilman Greig Smith's chief of staff.
And tonight, without a pinky toe's worth of shock or awe, we're here to announce that Englander made the cut -- if his (very early) 58 percent of the vote sticks, that is.
If by some miracle it does not, half a million dollars just went down the drain:
Englander spent more on his campaign than any other candidate in any other race -- over $500,000 -- proving there are some rich mofos with some very special interest in seeing the 40-year-old prodigy get a vote on California's most powerful city council.
So much for a Clean Sweep.
Brad Smith, the only District 12 contender with any press (or money), is at 24.32 percent, which is better than hippie fave Stephen Box in District 4, but still only half of what Englander's got. Can't help but wonder whether he might regret re-entering the race after a mid-January dropout?
Pretty much the only remaining chance for an upset here would be if (Brad) Smith and the four other randoms in the District 12 race collectively pushed ahead far enough to dunk Englander under 50 percent. That way, there'd have to be a runoff election on May 17...
Which, of course, the half-million-dollar man would probably win as well. But at least we'd have a few more months to hate our predictable Los Angeles lives a teeny bit less.
One small sprig of cheer did come from this race: The most backhanded Times endorsement in the long, repressed history of backhanded Times endorsements. It's priceless, really:
Other candidates in the race have lived in the district longer, have better credentials as entrepreneurs and can make more credible claims to speak for those who believe the district is an afterthought to City Hall. Navraj Singh, a rags-to-riches restaurateur, knows all too well the excessive barriers that the city puts in front of new businesses. And Kelly M. Lord Jr., a real estate broker, Brad Smith, an engineer, and Armineh Chelebian, an accountant, all offer good ideas about governance and development drawn from their work on neighborhood councils.
Englander isn't the top choice for angry voters wanting to shake a fist at City Hall, or for those eager for an outsider to bring completely new thinking to the council. But he is bright and capable, and seems more attentive to the neighborhoods' concerns than Smith has been. The Times urges a vote for him.
More to come as the numbers fill out.
Originally posted at 10:55 p.m.